Residents express frustration over floatplane base on Vancouver waterfront
Coal Harbour residents who are concerned about air pollution and noise say a temporary floatplane terminal near their waterfront neighbourhood has been in place long enough.
After five years based at the site, the operators are seeking another permit from the city so they can stay put until spring 2012. The most recent permit expired on June 1.
In late 2004, the city granted approval that allowed Harbour Air Seaplanes and West Coast Air to relocate from their home at the end of Burrard Street because of expansion work on the Vancouver Convention Centre.
But the move was met with an outcry from nearby residents who argued the floatplane activity would disrupt their lives.
Clarke McKeen, with the Coal Harbour Residents Association, said a “hard end-date” should be set for when the operation must move to either a different interim site or a proposed permanent home on the north side of the convention centre, not far from the current location.
McKeen questioned why, after several years, the floatplanes are still operating from the site near a park at the end of Bute Street.
“It’s becoming more than temporary. It’s becoming permanent,” he told the Straight today (June 2).
He complained about the noise and fumes the planes produce as they manoeuver on the water.
In a recent letter to mayor and council, the residents association recommended the city deny the request for a two-year permit, the third such application made since 2004. However, the association does support giving the operators until the end of year to relocate.
“Residents and park users alike are being held hostage to ongoing outside issues that seem to have no end in sight,” the letter reads. “This situation must come to an end.”
On June 10, council is set to review the permit application from the floatplane operators, who provide a key air link between downtown Vancouver and Victoria. The city’s director of planning will make the final decision on the permit.
McKeen said he heard the move to the proposed permanent floatplane and marina facility—a project that has city approval—has been delayed because the operators and project developer have not reached a lease agreement.
Bill Boons, assistant director of development for the city, said “a number of factors including the economic downturn” have delayed construction on the provincially owned site.
“We’re hoping the actual construction of that facility will begin very soon and hopefully be in place as early as next spring,” Boons told the Straight today.
Dimas Craveiro, with the Vancouver Rowing Club, said he does not object to the presence of floatplanes on the waterfront. But he expressed frustration that there are few signs the planes will stop using the temporary facility any time soon.
He said rowers have respiratory concerns related to exhaust from the planes.
“The further away a plane flies, obviously, the pollutants are diffused more, and that’s important for rowers and residents,” Craveiro told the Straight today.
A request for comment from the floatplane operators was not immediately returned.